Sharing content online – like this – couldn’t be easier – you just click a button, copy a link or forward it as an email and you’re done. Sharing ‘in real life’ only takes a little bit more effort. Whilst arts organisations are being encouraged to ‘get more digital’ we are concerned that this might exclude people who aren’t ever going to ‘get digital’ or simply see no reason to learn. It will also help younger people who may be mostly connecting and sharing online to find the skills to make connections and have conversations in the real world.
So we propose a Summer of Sharing.
Everyone has something to share and we are suggesting different ways to create online-offline activities so that all ages can get involved.
The focus is on sharing not teaching – on encouraging those who are currently offline to see the fun and benefit of being online – but not to make it a lesson.
Below is a Picnic Basket of Ideas – some are just little snacks, some are bigger plates and some can last longer than the summer – take what you want from the picnic basket and come back for more when you are ready!
If you’d like to share your ideas with us or how you get on with some of these ideas we’d love to hear from you.
You can include us in your online sharing with the hashtag #SummerOfSharing and @MagicMeArts
Or send us an email with your story to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to
Deborah Mason, Magic Me, 18 Victoria Park Square, London E2 9PF
Help yourself to our Picnic of Summer Sharing:
Just a little snack:
Fun content from social media platforms
Younger people can identify something they want to share and then plan an opportunity when they can share it ‘offline’ with the older person
Pass and Play games
Try out playing something like ‘pass and play’ scrabble
Start a conversation with a story (from a news site, twitter feed, facebook post or…)
Find something surprising online – it might be a news story, someone else’s posting of a picture, maybe something to do with the place where you live
Say – ‘look at this’ – ‘what do you think about this!’
The Good Old Days
Share your love of nostalgia for TV programmes or performances that are no longer on the box and use You Tube (or similar) to look up singers/ songs/ shows/ performances of the past, and have a chat about why you loved them.
Take a trip down memory lane
The British Film Institute has created a searchable map of Britain where you can find any films made about the area – both amateur and professional – check out your own area or places you have lived before:
Go for a virtual adventure?
Use Google Streetview to go somewhere you’ve never been (or back to a place you love). One of you can ‘drive’ one can ‘navigate. Venice, Paris, Rome, New York anyone?
More of a plateful:
Holiday photographs and activities
Find a photo album online to share with an older person, ask them to find a photo album offline to share with the younger person. Have a talk about the type of things you do/used to do on holidays – maybe try some out together.
Just do it! Just Share it!
Find something you can share to do that doesn’t need a computer or mobile phone to do it (but you might use the internet to find out how to do it – eg a recipe or set of instructions) and then share the experience online!
Or you could do it the other way round – perhaps the person you are with is the expert – so make a video together of them showing how to do something and post it online.
There are lots of things that cross the border between online and offline – here’s an example from one of our cocktail parties: Imogen was talking to one of the residents and they were chatting about poetry, the older resident said that she liked ‘that one with daffodils’ so Imogen found the poem on her phone and read it out to the resident.
Make a Playlist Together
Have a conversation about your favourite music and make a ‘mix tape’ playlist together, or pick a theme and make a playlist on the theme for example: summer holidays, rain making songs, seaside…
Some things will last (like car sweets) for longer than the summer:
Make the world a better place
Have a discussion about what you both care about and find a campaign you can get involved with together, some of it will be online but there might be offline things you can do to (like go to meetings, take part in events, fundraising etc.) Having different points of view and coming from different generations will make your contributions really valuable.
Get involved in a ‘Citizen Science’ project
Citizen science is where scientists and scientific organisations ask ordinary people to get involved to help them do tasks that they don’t have the man-power to do – often these are survey type tasks – counting things – many of which happen on line using photographs taken by telescopes or remote or drone cameras. One of our favourites is counting penguins!
Counting penguins: https://www.penguinwatch.org/#/
Or you could be identifying geological features on mars:
The scistarter website has all sorts of projects that you can search for by your own interests.
Family & Friends Book and/or Film club
It seems obvious but a family and friends’ book or film club is a great way of dedicating some time to talking together as a group.
You can do one or the other or both, or combine the two so ‘non-readers’ can choose a film instead of a book. Although of course you can listen to books as well as read them! Films can we watched together or people can do this in smaller groups via their preferred way of viewing (video (!), DVD, download or online).
Make sure everyone gets a chance to suggest a book and/or film – perhaps put suggestions in a hat and draw them out to keep things fair
Set a time to get together after everyone has seen the film/read the book to have a chat about what you thought of it.
Be patient with each other. Be patient with the enthusiasm of the young, be patient with the need for a little less speed from your elders! If the older person you are sharing with had dementia also be patient with the fact that sometimes they’ll love to share with you and sometimes they won’t. Or they may not remember things you remember, or be able to answer all your questions.
Respect each other’s tastes: there is no such thing as good taste or bad taste – just different tastes. Learning about what other people like will help you to understand them as a person. Don’t be too judgmental, find out what it is they love about a particular thing.
Timing is everything: find a time to do activities that works for everyone. Accept that sometimes people are too tired even to look at a phone or laptop screen.
Why is this important?
Creating strong intergenerational relationships is at the core of what Magic Me does. We bring together older and younger people in arts projects where they work together creatively towards a shared goal. Increasingly arts organisations are looking to ‘get digital’ and our Summer of Sharing campaign is part of our commitment to making sure that the ‘digital’ is as inclusive and intergenerational as possible.
For most of us the digital revolution isn’t now a revolution – it’s done and dusted and digital is the new regime. We have smart phones, tablets, laptops. Some people cling to the old ways, leaving behind their desktop PC in the office (or home study) and using only an old style mobile or telephone for communications. But they can still get online if they want to. Some people can’t. Some people don’t see what it has to offer. Obviously there are many older people who embrace new technology (after all we invented the computer and the internet in the first place!) and we’d also like them to get involved in sharing with their peers.
There comes a point in the lives of many elderly people when they struggle with short term memory, when they find taking in new information difficult. Learning a completely new skill that doesn’t connect with anything they’ve previously done or learnt relies on new memories, new actions – there isn’t always capacity for that (although of course not all older people are the same and some may thrive on the challenge!). No matter how many lessons they have with skilled ‘teach the elderly computer skills’ volunteers – the information they need doesn’t stick.
So we need to accept that there will be some people for whom accessing digital content, digital messaging by themselves – just isn’t a thing. They are always going to need someone to help them. We can make that a positive thing – a conversation starter, a way of finding a common interest – a help to keep connected to what is going on in the world. It will also help younger people who may be mostly connecting and sharing online to find the skills to make connections and have conversations in the real world.
Here is an example: Imogen was at one of our Cocktails in Care Homes parties recently. She was chatting to one of the residents about poetry. The woman she was talking to said that her favourite was ‘the one with the daffodils’. So Imogen looked this up on her phone and read it out loud. They both then enjoyed a further discussion about the poem and which bits of it they liked in particular.
Can we start a digital ‘in-real-life sharing’ movement? Could you share with your older relatives, neighbours, friends? Find one thing to share for every time you see them? Maybe we could encourage the social media platforms to follow the lead of some online newspapers and create a ‘save to share’ button for the content we want to share ‘in-real-life’?
The Centre for Ageing Better recently reported that a third of people between the ages of 65-74 were not using the internet and 74% of this group also said that there was nothing that would prompt them to go online in the next twelve months. This is an age group where there is probably still plenty of capacity to learn how it works and to get online but there just isn’t the motivation to do so. Although there are schemes set up to help people, many of them free, without the desire to learn (and to practice what is learnt) this group will remain stubbornly offline. In a recent report by the Centre for Ageing Better and the Good Things Foundation they suggest that some of this ‘lack of interest’ may also reflect fear of being made to look stupid and also fear of compounding the stereotype that ‘old people can’t do online’. Sharing ‘in-real-life’ with this group may also give them that motivation, and confidence, to seek out the help they need to become part of the digital future.
Featured image is from our Decorum project at the Women of the World Festival, photographer Holly Falconer.